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Wendy Shafranski


December 29, 2023

Looking to Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption?

Alcohol is always a hot topic around the gym. And I find it challenging to write about it without sounding judgy…so, let’s just get it out there that I am not.

I do know that we all work hard on our fitness and want to see the benefits of that hard work. And we want to have a good time. So, how does alcohol fit in?

While a cocktail here and there probably won’t derail your fitness goals, a certain threshold certainly will. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as 5-7 drinks per week…and it’s less than it seems. If you’re pouring your own wine or mixing your own cocktail, a drink could actually be two.

This post isn’t to convince you to give alcohol up completely, but I’d like to give you some facts and strategies.

First some facts:

Alcohol poses more risks than benefits (despite what the media has reported in the past about red wine). These include an increased risk in neurodegeneration, cancers, disrupted hormones and weaker bones.

And in terms of affecting your work in the gym, it can slow recovery, make you dehydrated and disrupt your sleep.

If you take prescription medication, that may increase alcohol’s toxicity on your organs.

Alcohol can worsen things like stress and depression.

Women process alcohol differently than men because they have less water in their blood, making the alcohol more concentrated. So, the health risks of drinking are even moreso for women.

If you are someone who enjoys drinking, I will propose some strategies:  

If you are unsure of how much you actually drink, keep a drinking log and don’t go over the moderate consumption of 5-7 drinks per week.

Start drinking more slowly than you usually do. I know, for me, when I would be around friends and having a good time, I drank faster. I always envied those people who could nurse a drink all night! So, just be aware.

If you are someone who has a drink every day, transition to weekends only. Or maybe never the night before a workout.

Play around with the timing. Drink earlier (when you’re not working, of course!), then have a good meal and lots of water so not as much alcohol is in your system when you hit the bed.

After holidays full of imbibing, a lot of people do “dry January” to kick off the year, but then slip back into old habits. If you are doing “dry January,” pay attention to how much better you sleep, what your body composition feels like, how mentally sharp you are, etc. That itself might convince you to slow down.


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